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Red Sea isolation history suggested by Plio-Pleistocene seismic reflection sequences

Mitchell, Neil C.; Ligi, Marco; Rohling, Eelco

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High evaporation rates in the desert climate of the Red Sea ensure that, during glacial sea level lowstands when water exchange with the Indian Ocean was more restricted, water salinity and δ18O became unusually extreme. Modeling of the effect on Red Sea sedimentary δ18O has been used previously to reconstruct relative sea level to 500 ka and now poses the question of whether that sea-level model could be extended if continuous core material of older sediment became available. We attempt to...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorMitchell, Neil C.
dc.contributor.authorLigi, Marco
dc.contributor.authorRohling, Eelco
dc.date.accessioned2016-02-24T22:40:41Z
dc.identifier.issn0012-821X
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/98408
dc.description.abstractHigh evaporation rates in the desert climate of the Red Sea ensure that, during glacial sea level lowstands when water exchange with the Indian Ocean was more restricted, water salinity and δ18O became unusually extreme. Modeling of the effect on Red Sea sedimentary δ18O has been used previously to reconstruct relative sea level to 500 ka and now poses the question of whether that sea-level model could be extended if continuous core material of older sediment became available. We attempt to address this question here by examining seismic reflection data. The upper Pleistocene hemipelagic sediments in the Red Sea contain intervals of inorganic aragonite precipitated during supersaturated conditions of sea-level lowstands. Seismic impedance changes associated with boundaries to those aragonite-rich layers appear to explain seismic reflection sequences. A segment of Chirp sediment profiler data from the central Red Sea reveals prominent reflections at ~1, ~5, ~23, ~26 and ~36 ms two-way travel time (TWT) from the seabed. Based on depths to the glacial marine isotope stages (MIS) in cores, we relate the upper three reflections to the tops of aragonite-rich layers and hence the sea level rises immediately following MIS 2, 6 and 12. The reflection at 26 ms is related to an unusually rapid fall into MIS 12 predicted by one sea level reconstruction, which may have created an abrupt lower boundary to the MIS 12 aragonite-rich layer. With the aid of seismogram modeling, we tentatively associate the ~36 ms reflection with the top of an aragonite-rich layer formed during MIS 16. Furthermore, some segments of lower frequency (airgun and sparker) seismic data from the central and southern Red Sea show a lower (earlier) Plio-Pleistocene (PP) interval that is less reflective than the upper (late) PP interval. This implies less variability in sediment impedance and that extreme variability in water salinity did not develop; water exchange with the Indian Ocean likely continued throughout this interval. These results suggest that viable relative sea level reconstructions may be recovered from Red Sea sediment δ18O data to at least MIS 16 and perhaps even as far back as the early Pliocene.
dc.publisherElsevier
dc.sourceEarth and Planetary Science Letters
dc.titleRed Sea isolation history suggested by Plio-Pleistocene seismic reflection sequences
dc.typeJournal article
local.description.notesImported from ARIES
local.identifier.citationvolume430
dc.date.issued2015
local.identifier.absfor040104 - Climate Change Processes
local.identifier.absfor040203 - Isotope Geochemistry
local.identifier.absfor040605 - Palaeoclimatology
local.identifier.ariespublicationa383154xPUB3320
local.type.statusPublished Version
local.contributor.affiliationMitchell, Neil C., University of Manchester
local.contributor.affiliationLigi, Marco, National Research Council - Institute of Marine Sciences CNR-ISMAR
local.contributor.affiliationRohling, Eelco, College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, ANU
local.description.embargo2037-12-31
local.bibliographicCitation.startpage387
local.bibliographicCitation.lastpage397
local.identifier.doi10.1016/j.epsl.2015.08.037
dc.date.updated2016-02-24T08:07:40Z
local.identifier.scopusID2-s2.0-84941254542
CollectionsANU Research Publications

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